Nothing Especially Good — Much Less Fantastic — About The New “Fantastic Four” #1

Posted: March 6, 2014 in comics
Tags: , , , , ,

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Ho-hum — another year, another new Fantastic Four re-boot. Honestly, it’s getting pretty old at this point, isn’t it? I’ve frankly lost count of how many Fantastic Four #1s there have been by now, but here we go again — barely a year after Marvel’s one-time “flagship” team book was re-launched (along with a companion title, the far superior and already-missed FF) as part of the already-aborted “Marvel Now!” line, the first family of costumed adventuring is getting yet another new lease on life courtesy of yet another company-wide kick in the pants, less-than-imaginatively grouped under the heading of “All-New Marvel Now!” Say it with me — “whatever.”

Gone is writer Matt Fraction, whose solitary year-long storyline seemed to run out of gas well before the halfway point, and in steps new scribe James Robinson, who’s joined by penciller Leonard Kirk, holdover inker Karl Kesel, and hotshot-colorist-on-the-rise (seriously, check out his work on Howard Chaykin’s recently-concluded Buck Rogers mini-series from Hermes Press is you don’t believe me) Jesus Aburtov, for a new “arc” entitled “The Fall Of The Fantastic Four.” The only thing is, they’ve already “fallen” on page one of issue one.

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Yup — Reed’s a bastard, Ben’s in jail, Sue’s a wreck, and Johnny’s boozing and partying his ass off in a wild display of hedonistic excess. But how did we get to this point? That’s the “big question” Robinson appears to be set on spending the next X-number of issues answering, there’s just one problem — he doesn’t give us readers much reason to care about his character’s respective journey from Point A to Point B .

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As we cut to flashback mode, Sue Storm serves as our narrator, telling us about how the team/family has returned to Earth from their sojourn in outer space to find things quite different than how they left them — their daughter, Valeria, is off living in Latveria (hey, that rhymes), the Baxter Building is overcrowded with new supporting cast members, and Fin Fang Foom is attacking New York. That provides a good excuse for our art team to flex their chops in a fairly cool two-page spread (shown below), but there aren’t too many other “gotcha!” moments or images to speak of here. Robinson has the dialogue for all the principal players down pretty well, but shit — they all pretty much write themselves at this point, don’t they?

Well, no, they don’t, but when the proceedings are this uninspired, it  sort of seems like they do.

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After besting everyone’s favorite giant dragon, the team goes about their droll daily business — Johnny sets up a nationwide tour with his agent, Ben tentatively gets back together with Alicia, Sue frets about her kid, and Reed pretends to give a shit about his wife’s neuroses. Then some imp-creature thingies invade through some trans-dimensional portal (could be the doorway to the Negative Zone, I suppose), and that “fall” we’ve already heard so much about is, apparently, underway. To. Be. Fucking. Continued.

Kirk, Kesel, and Aburtov all do a reasonably solid job with their various assignments, putting in a workmanlike, if unspectacular, effort, but the script is what really lets the side down here. I generally enjoy Robinson’s work — his current Image series, The Saviors, is off to a really nice start — but he never seems to take things beyond a kind of resigned, “going-through-the-motions” state of affairs here. He already knows how his story is ultimately going to play out, of course — all writers do — but his stubborn refusal to even disguise that fact makes for a pretty lackluster opening salvo to what, we’re told, is an “epic” in the making. You could have fooled me — this just feels like standard-issue super-hero melodrama caked under layer after layer of hype (not to mention eight different variant covers, all sporting the same truly wretched new logo).

Maybe things will get better ( it’s hard to see how they could get much worse), but at $3.99 an issue I feel pretty safe sitting the rest of this one out and waiting to see what next year’s inevitable new Fantastic Four #1 brings.

 

Comments
  1. MojosWork says:

    I’m gonna add the new She-Hulk to this list of the All-New Underwhleming Now! line.

    • trashfilmguru (Ryan C.) says:

      I haven’t even checked that out yet — Charles Soule is writing something like 9 books a month right now, you have to figure the quality of all of them is going to suffer.

      • MojosWork says:

        I thought it was overly verbose, the art uneven at best, and the bulk of the”action” took place in gabby court/boardroom/TGI Friday’s settings. I’ll draw something on the blank cover and hopefully sell it.

      • trashfilmguru (Ryan C.) says:

        It’ll probably be better than the interior art.

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